From wildfires to hurricanes to just making it through the pandemic, we’re all thinking about survival these days. We’ve lived through the run on toilet paper, hand sanitizer, flour and yeast and now, we’re eyeing those 72-hour emergency kits on Instagram, wondering which one is the right one for the job. And beyond that, is it worth the money? Can we DIY this thing?
Ultimate guru of family management, Jordan Page makes feeding and stylishly clothing her eight children on a tiny budget seem simultaneously simple and impossible. Not surprisingly, she’s got the family preparedness thing on lock, and she and her husband Bubba kindly share how they pack and maintain their emergency kits, as well as their 3 month pantry of shelf cooking splendor. On funcheaporfree.com, she writes: “The FACT is, 100% of us will be affected by a natural disaster, job loss, personal injury, or financial stress at some point. By having some necessities on-hand, you can be self-sufficient and *hopefully* provide for your family, so you can then turn around and help others. We are definitely not doomsdayers, but we DO believe that emergency prep is important!”
So do we… and, we know it can be a bit overwhelming. But Jordan and Bubba promise, getting ready for whatever is to come doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming or stressful. Here are a few ways to begin.
Get back to the basics
What do you truly need in an emergency?
• First aid
• And whatever your child or baby needs based on their age
OK… so how much of all that do I need?
Jordan Page suggests you consider the amount of food you would purchase to feed your family for one day and multiply that by seven. Start with a week’s supply and then expand it to a month and then three months. If you really want to go for it, you can gradually stockpile food that will last not only months, but years, like wheat, rice and beans. Check out Costco’s emergency food kits if you’d rather buy something already put together.
Where do I keep all this food?
Take a common sense approach and make sure your stockpile is well-packaged in airtight plastic or metal containers. Store your food in a cool dry place. It’s best if it’s accessible enough to rotate as your supply grows.
Don’t forget the water
Make sure your water is filtered and safe for drinking, and then store it in sturdy containers that won’t leak or break easily, like clean plastic bottles from juice or soda. Store containers away from heat and direct sunlight. It’s not a bad idea to keep several gallons in the garage near your car to just grab and go.
Emergencies can require us to evacuate with little to no notice, sometimes on foot. Having three days of supplies that you can carry with you is a good start to getting to a place of safety. There are multiple 72-hour kits available for purchase. We like the kits from Judy, but you can find kits pretty much anywhere, at surplus stores, Home Depot, Costco, wherever you shop.
Don’t break the bank
Part of emergency preparedness includes having enough financial reserve to cover unanticipated costs or interruptions in income, so if an emergency kit isn’t in your budget right now, you can build one slowly over time. Same goes for your food stockpile. Try buying one extra of every pantry item on your grocery list and you’ll be stocked up in no time. Or, do it coupon style and get one more of every sale item on each shopping trip.
We’ve combined suggestions from The Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, and Jordan Page for our list. Select what makes sense for you and the climate where you live and put it all together in a backpack for each member of your household. You can also fill out this Family Emergency Communication Plan to stay organized.
- Food including protein bars, jerky, (at least a three-day supply of non-perishables per person)
- Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Refillable water bottle
- Water filter straw
- Can opener and utensils as needed
- First aid kit
- Hand sanitizer
- Prescription medicines
- Glasses, contact lenses
- Feminine products
- Antibacterial wipes
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Garbage bags and plastic ties
- Paper towels
- Change of clothes, sweatshirt, long pants, underwear, warm socks, hat, gloves (Prepare for cold nights, you can always remove clothes.)
- Hand crank radio / NOAA weather radio with tone alert
- Solar powered flashlight and/or hand-crank flashlight
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (in case of contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Emergency blanket
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Pocket knife (keep away from the kiddos)
- Matches in waterproof container
- Glow Sticks (function as flares and emergency flashlight)
- Hand Warmers (if you live in a cold climate)
- Local maps
- Copies of important papers, driver’s license and birth certificates (in watertight plastic bag or laminated)
With baby on board
- Diapers and wipes
- Infant formula, bottles, pacifier
- Children’s over the counter fever reliever
For the kiddos
- Coloring books and games
- Tennis ball (check out this Bubba hack where a tennis ball doubles as toy and survival tool)
Don’t forget the pets!
- Extra water
Extras to keep at the ready
- Pet carriers and/or leashes
- Sleeping bags
- Extra diapers and wipes
- Fire extinguisher
- Solar charger
- Mini cooking stove
Okay, that’s a lot.
We know, but some of the items are likely already in your possession, it’s just a matter of organizing them in a backpack and keeping it by the door. Take your preparation one step at a time and before you know it, you’ll have your own comprehensive kit. Then designate an easy to access spot in your home for everyone’s kits. FEMA recommends a separate kit for the car, and one to keep with you at work.
Now that you’re all ready…
Don’t forget to update your emergency supplies every year. Swap out batteries, new sizes of clothing for growing kids, expired food and medicines, and keep that water fresh. You’ve got this!